Some residents of Trademore Estate in Abuja have shared their experiences and thoughts on the flood that ravaged the estate in the early hours of Friday following a downpour across the Nigerian capital.
A large part of the estate, located in the Lugbe axis of the capital city, along the airport road, was flooded after the downpour which lasted hours.
During a visit to the estate on Saturday morning, PREMIUM TIMES observed that several houses, vehicles, shops and other properties were damaged and displaced by the flood.
While our reporters were interviewing residents of the estate, residents discovered a corpse, at about 12:30 p.m., stuck beneath the drainage at the entrance of the estate.
Alhaji Ashiru, a police inspector recently posted to the area, who was narrating how he lost all his properties to the flood, rushed to pull out the corpse from the canal with the help of other residents around.
Upon witnessing the recovery of the body, our reporters called the attention of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
The spokesperson of NEMA, Manzo Ezekiel, assured that the agency will deploy its officers to the estate to continue searching for other missing persons.
Mr Ezekiel said NEMA is also collaborating with other agencies and residents of the area to prevent further disaster.
However, this is not the first time the estate would experience flooding. It has become an annual occurrence during the rainy season. Last year, several fatalities were recorded from a similar incident with residents describing it as the worst in the last decade.
Audu Faruk, a resident and witness of the flood, said he saw several people being dragged away by the flood but he could only rescue a few.
He said he was sleeping when the flood started, and all of a sudden he saw his bed floating.
Mr Faruk said while he was trying to rescue his pregnant neighbour, he saw many people in the water, struggling to escape.
“I saw many people that were struggling inside the water. I wanted to rescue but I was able to rescue just a few,” he said.
Narrating his experience, Mr Faruk said: “I just came back from work and I wanted to take a short nap around 8:30 a.m. I saw that the weather had changed and It was about to rain and I decided to take a short nap.
“Few minutes after I laid on the bed to relax, I noticed that my body was wet and the room was cold, so I stood up to see what was happening. I saw that the room had been filled with water. I was surprised and I decided to check what was going on outside. Then I opened the door and I saw that everywhere had been flooded.”
On his part, Mr Ashiru, the police inspector, said the flood could have claimed many lives if it occurred in the night.
“If the flood had occurred in the night, it could have claimed the lives of many of the occupants of this estate,” he said.
“My brother (Audu) was sleeping when he noticed that his mattress was soaked with water. He immediately jumped up and by the time he opened the door, the flood gushed into his house. He was even the person that saved all of us in this house.”
Mr Ashiru said he was not aware that the estate is prone to floods of such magnitude because he was newly transferred to Abuja.
“I’m not aware something like this used to happen in this area, this is my first time witnessing flooding in this area. I am new here, I was transferred here about four months ago,” he told PREMIUM TIMES in an interview.
Another resident who identified himself as Isah, described the flood experience as a “terrible” episode. He said the estate is located on a waterway and that lives and properties are at stake.
“I heard they do experience flooding once in a while here. I had a first-hand experience of the flood yesterday and it was terrible,” he said.
Mr Isah said a few children were stuck in a school located near the road, about 100 metres from the major drainage. He added that the children were rescued through the school fence.
“The water was too high. The school bus parked here was floating like a balloon on the water. It was so massive and I have not seen anything like that before,” Mr Isah said.
The Chairman of the Trademore Estate Association, Adewale Osinaike, said the amount of work that the developer of the estate was asked to do internally was done but that the government is yet to do what they are supposed to do to stop the flood from reoccurring.
“The government has always paid a lip service to things like this. This has been a recurring decimal for us over the years,” he said.
Mr Osinaike told PREMIUM TIMES that each time a flood incident occurs, all the agencies of government (FERMA, NEMA, and FCDA) would come and make promises without taking any action.
“In fact, there was an incident when the minister of state for FCT came as well. They all come and they would talk big but talk is cheap but at the end of the day, they don’t do anything,” he said.
Source of the flood
Speaking on the source of the excess water causing the area to be flooded annually, Mr Osinaike said residents believe that the water that comes into Trademore is from other parts of Abuja.
He said the water is a flash flood that comes from somewhere else (from upstream) and that they have always informed the authorities that there is a need to divert waters coming from Lokogoma and Piakasa areas to another direction.
He explained that waters from surrounding estates gather to become a confluence within Trademore.
When Trademore was built, he said, they did not envisage that there would be another estate within, but that right now they have over 74 estates around Trademore estate.
“These are hilltop grounds and all the waters in those areas were like a valley. So all the surface water will head in the direction of Trademore,” he narrated.
“We have told them ( the government) time and time again that there is a need for intervention at the source of this water. Nothing is done. The only reaction the government is giving to us is that there is a need to demolish buildings on the floodplain.”
The estate chairman explained there is no one in Trademore who built his own house as the houses were built by the government-approved developer.
He said the developer built over 3,000 houses but was not properly supervised by the statutory authorities in Abuja.
“Where was the Development Control when houses were being built on a flood plain? Where was FCDA? Where were the statutory agencies that were responsible for the construction of these buildings?” he queried.
He said the authorities are now demolishing people’s homes, noting that after the flood incident on Friday, they were already taking photos of the houses they would demolish.
“Demolition is not the answer. Demolition is a lazy way. It shows intellectual laziness. It shows they are not interested in nipping it in the bud by going to where the problem is to sort this out. We have spoken to them over and over again. It appears they are pushing us to a point where our reaction to their inaction would be very swift and they may not like the consequences of our actions,” Mr Osinaike said.
He explained that they are happy that for the first time, the senator representing the Nigerian capital, Ireti Kingibe, came and that she promised to set up a committee to review the problems.
“We’ve had senators in the past. She came today and we went around and she promised that she would set up a technical committee that will holistically look into the problems. It is not just about Trademore. It gets a lot of attention because of the size of the estate. There are other estates around us that suffer exactly the same thing,” he noted.
Mr Osinaike emphasised that there is a need for the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) and all the necessary agencies to look at the whole area and redesign the drainage architecture.
“It is important that it is done. You can come and pull down all the buildings in this estate. It does not take away this flood issue, it will still happen. We are ready to work with them, they must be ready to work with us,” he said.
As of Friday, he said, they were not aware anyone died from the latest flood until the Saturday body was recovered. The police have taken the corpse away and I believe they will do the necessary things, Mr Osinaike said.
Richard Nduul, the spokesperson of the FCDA, refused to comment on the issue when contacted by our reporters on Saturday.